It seems that while the pond's been away the wretched, pathetic and desperate reptiles at the lizard Oz have become even more wretched and desperate.
These days you get a pop-up demanding details to set up "lite access" before being allowed to continue.
Well as the Oxford notes:
denoting a low-fat or low-sugar version of a manufactured food or drink product: lite beer
denoting a simpler or less challenging version of a particular thing or person: I am the happy feminist who likes men, the feminist lite
Are the reptiles abusing their customers or themselves?
"lite access" - is it denoting a simpler and less challenging version of a particularly simple-minded, ideological and combative rag?
Or try out another notion, take it for a run: I am the happy deluded reader who likes mindless hive mind Murdochians, the reader lite.
The Oxford also offers the word as a noun, as used to describe light beer with relatively few calories, and who can argue that the rag offers very few intellectual calories?
The Oxford proposes that it was a commercial re-spelling performed in the 1950s - can anyone doubt that one of Murdoch's fellow United States' citizens was involved in the crime, the evil deed - and the pond holds the word in the same contempt as it reserves for nite, GR8, G2CU and yes, even Xmas, though atheists are given special permission to use the word if it irritates the heck out of a Pellist or angry Sydney Anglican Xian.
Anyhoo - oh how that word irritates some - to cut to the chase, or the long and the short, the pond feels absolutely no need to continue a "lite conversation" with the paranoid reptiles at fortress Murdoch, and certainly not by giving up identity details to an organisation which the pond rates lower than the NSA.
Of course it's only a bait and switch - click on the lizard Oz's explanation of "lite access" and you will be told "After a while, you will be reminded to upgrade to one of our great value digital subscriptions. It only takes a few seconds to register, and it's free, so dive on in."
"Reminded"? That's a quaint word for harassed and spammed endlessly.
"Dive on in?" Dive into a rag riven with ideological ratbaggery and feral zealotry?
Why the pond would sooner dive into a swamp full of mugwumps ...
Thank the long absent lord that the pond's mother was always warning about diving off the end of the pier without checking for sharp cutting coral or brain-wrecking rocks ... and yes, Nick Cater, Denis Shanahan, Paul Kelly, Greg Sheridan and other regulars should really be considered rocks.
Lordy lordy, look how times fly when you're having fun, so we can tiptoe past the reptiles this morning indulging in their ritual NBN bashing, having established yesterday how News Corp does indeed fear high speed broadband and its potential to affect their earnings - not realising alienating at least half the population with their crusades easily achieves the same result.
Besides, if you want your News fix fixed as usual, you can head off to news.com.au, because the silly old codger running the show still hasn't woken up to the way he's demanding money cosa nostra style with the right hand, while giving it away with the left hand ...
Oh sure it's as lite as a sodden piece of puff pastry, but it's free ... and all the Murdochians score is some pathetic click revenue most unlikely to offset the costs ... so get clicking ...
Meanwhile, since we're on the quest for free Murdochian madness, why not click on Miriam Closic's epic effort for The Drum, An adult is back in charge of the arts.
It's a sublime example of the hagiography which the pond predicted would become the pro forma for Murdochians, and in this case, the subject of the hagiography is one George Brandis, as unlikely a subject in his own unique way as Johnnie Cochran.
Reading the piece - bizarrely Cosic starts off by describing herself as a person of the left, a most amusing concept for a senior writer in the charnel house of Murdoch land - was the first time the pond had felt any sympathy at all for Peter "short memory" Garrett in a long time.
Cosic's criticism of Garrett? Well it seems you judge a politician and their arts policies by the way they return your phone calls and conduct their meetings - a most sublime version of the LA film game, where who will and will not return a phone call is an art up there as subtle and as intriguing as kabuki:
As reclusive as you'd expect a rock super-star to be, Peter Garrett was very rarely available for comment. In our first meeting, we had to angle around an inner-city Sydney cafe, to make sure his back was to the room so no-one would recognise him. We had to run through the whole conversation before he allowed the recorder to be turned on, then run through the same conversation again for the record, minus the spontaneity and the sense of conversational discovery unfolding. Let's be generous and put it down to first-timer's nerves. No-one was even asking about pink batts yet.
Sheesh, talk about tone deaf. How can you have a sense of a conversational discovery unfolding with a member of a tribe dedicated to the art of "gotcha" journalism? Why on earth would anyone in the Labor party be paranoid about the Murdochians?
And then came this:
The only arts that seemed to interest Garrett were pop music and Indigenous art: both genres that had a strong, private and profit-driven business model in place. Midnight Oil seemed his prototype of how things could and should be done.
Which is both absurd, as anyone trying to find cheap nearby live music in Sydney will testify, and stereotypical, since Garrett could drone on endlessly (as the pond personally experienced) in exemplary bureaucratese about arts policies far removed from the world of Midnight Oil.
Embedded deep within Cosic's piece is the refined notion that really only Liberals - and perhaps screaming opera lover Andrew the Bolter - know about the subtle, nuanced world of the y'artz, as you might expect of refined people living in Toorak or an eastern suburbs somewhere near you - completely impossible for crude pub rocker types:
He was certainly more hip than Brandis. Yet it's those daggy old heritage arts, like opera and ballet, that really rely on government support. They cost a bomb because hundreds of people have to be paid - on stage, in the pit, and in carpentry, engineering and sewing workshops across the country - every time Violetta gets to die again.
Uh huh. Daggy old heritage arts!
Now there's a mindset at work. The pond hastily put away its proposal for doing Wagner as a defiant transgendered parable of stretching boundaries and mortality, with a whiff of Luhrmann - it's a bona fide goer, I tells ya - and has reverted to a replica staging as first rolled out in 1876:
Talk about daggy!
Inter alia, Cosic broods about John Howard, Tony Abbott, and free speech, and comes up with this reassuring line:
In that throwaway line about the Jews, the pond came to realise it didn't have the first clue what Cosic was actually on about.
Except perhaps that only Brandis and the Bolter were on the right track:
... In the last week of campaigning, Brandis promised the reassertion of common law rights and freedoms, and the appointment of one, maybe more, "freedom" commissioners to the Human Rights Commission.
"I don't want to see the human rights bureaucracy expanded," he said, "but if we are going to have a human rights agency of the commonwealth, it ought to be an agency that protects human rights, not an agency that protects some human rights and makes excuses for the violation of others." It's a line that Andrew Bolt, with much less sophistication, has been promoting for months. In reality, the race hatred provision of the anti-discrimination bill has been rarely evoked and then mostly for cases of rabid anti-Semitism.
Frabjous joy. So it seems we'll be able to go back to blaming the blacks for always playing the victim (as if that game has ever stopped).
You see, here's the rhetorical trick. You call the Bolter less sophisticated, because that allows you to say that delivering up Bolter-style abuse of the most insulting kind is actually quite okay, since he only bashes the blacks and doesn't do it to the Jews ... who are European these days, and that's why everyone abuses the west. Or some such thing.
And then this:
The election of an Abbott Government may not signal the threat to intellectual freedom the Howard government represented, as long as it doesn't start objecting to this publicly-funded work of art or that publicly-funded research project, or controlling information flow for political ends.
And so in a single sentence Cosic washes away all the preening and posturing in the election campaign about wasteful research and wasteful artists daring to comment on non-existent matters like climate change, not to mention jolly Joe Hockey going front and centre in a television campaign with an attack on ergonomic chairs (non-ergonomic chairs being so much more useful if you want to downsize the public service and send them all off to the scrap heap).
Yes, you can piss away zillions on an excessive and inequitable paid parental leave scheme, but watch out for the chairs ...
Never mind, it turns out that everything is the best in the best of all possible worlds:
With so many flat-earthers promoted to other portfolios, those of us interested in the arts and in freedom of expression should be glad that Brandis has been given his wish list. Arts and Attorney General's, second only to Industrial Relations perhaps, are two areas non-Liberals won't want to see in the hands of the New Right.
Yes, because this sort of flat-earthing is so much more acceptable, and never mind that there might be other flat-earthers roaming about. You know, Bill Heffernan blathering on about barren Gillard. Or:
Senator Brandis hit back yesterday, describing Ms Gillard as one-dimensional.
"I think Julia Gillard who . . . has chosen not to be a parent . . . shows that she just doesn't understand the way parents think about their children when they reach a particular age," Senator Brandis told the ABC in Brisbane.
"I think that although Julia Gillard is a very clever politician, she is very much a one-dimensional person . (It) is not something she would have said if she were herself the mother of teenage daughters."
Uh huh. So if as a woman you don't have children, you end up a one-dimensional person.
Suck on that Jane Austen. Go howl at the moon Virginia Woolf (and what do you know, Amazon even provides a list of famous childless women, some of whom dabbled in the arts).
But back to Cosic, vastly relieved that at last she's got a politician who will return her phone calls, and not act weirdly in cafes, and explain to her how everything is for the best in the best of all Abbottian worlds:
... Nor am I worried, again unlike some others in the arts, that his responsibilities as Attorney-General will swamp his work in Arts. Senior front-benchers routinely take on more than one portfolio and, in Brandis's case, neither was foisted on him.
Brandis, an intellectual and a political moderate despite the relish with which he rolls up his sleeves and plunges into savage political debate, will no doubt have to wrestle with issues of freedom versus decency in both his portfolios. As we all must, if we're rigorous. He may also, as Attorney-General, have to wrestle with his colleagues in cabinet on a whole range of other issues that blur the lines of democratic rights, political expediency and economic privilege.
Oh and he needs to save us from useless art grants and artists daring to mention climate change and ergonomic chairs and childless one dimensional women dabbling in the y'artz ...
Truly the kool aid is strong at News Corp, and as befits the confused, chaotic tone of Cosic's piece, it evoked a storm of equally confused and chaotic comments, as disturbing and as amusing to read as her own hagiographic effort ...
So let's close with Cosic's best effort. She attempts to bank Malcolm Turnbull's defence of Bill Henson, on behalf of Brandis and a new era of toleration.
But here's what Brandis said when the affair was going strong:
"No artist has a carte blanche to say, 'Because I'm an artist, I'm entitled to breach the criminal law in relation to matters like child pornography'," he said.
Uh huh. So what did the creepy cafe greeter have to say?
Arts Minister Peter Garrett says artists have a right to confront audiences but must operate within the law.
Why it turns out they're two peas in a law-abiding pod, a veritable Tweedles dum and dee. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Is there any hope?
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has described Henson's photographs as "absolutely revolting" but Greens Senator Bob Brown says Mr Rudd does not understand art. Senator Brown has compared the furore to censorship in Soviet Russia. (here)
Ah Bob, long gone now, and George Brandis ready to assume the Garrett mantle and maintain the law.
How soon before shit happens and Brandis puts his foot in the libertarian mess?
The pond is already arranging a bet involving a quite tasty bottle of red with a mug punter friend.
Perhaps Cosic would like to join the challenge, though it's a more than fair bet she'll stick with the kool aid ... strong or lite ...
(Below: a portrait of a one-dimensional woman. How she became one of the pond's favourite writers must remain an enduring mystery which perhaps only Miriam Cosic and George Brandis might be able to explain).